There was a great story in Tuesday’s Pittsburgh Tribune-Review by Jeff Oliver that I felt needed addressed.
Everyone has their opinions on Pittsburgh Pirates owner Bob Nutting and most of those aren’t favorable opinions. The common theory is that Nutting is too cheap to ever build a winner in Pittsburgh and judging by his tenure in Pittsburgh, it’s hard to dispute that.
But former minority owner Jay Lustig cleared a few things up about Nutting and pretty much told fans what they already knew and that is the fact that more money won’t be spent.
I’m not here to argue that fact, but I thought I would pass along a few points of what Lustig had to say to Oliver.
First, a little background on Lustig. As I mentioned, he was a minority owner back in 1996 when Kevin McClatchy purchased the franchise and stayed on until last fall when he realized that Nutting was never going to sell the team.
He told Oliver:
“(Nutting) cleaned up the finances and put the franchise on solid ground. … Now did Bob Nutting and I have personality clashes? Absolutely. I’ve talked to him several times and tried to convince him that now is the time to sell to a multi-billionaire who is willing to come in here and spend more money and see if he can make the Pirates win.”
“Last fall I finally realized that what I wanted wasn’t going to happen. So I got out.”
Lustig does show a lot of respect for Nutting in the article and frequently credits him for cleaning up the franchise’s finances but said he is too “rational” to turn the club into a consistent winner.
“If you are a small-market franchise, if you want to win, you have to be willing to lose … money,” Lusting told the Trib. “Nutting’s problem is he is a rational owner in an irrational business.”
“He wants to make enough money to keep us from going into the red. He is running the business rationally, trying to make money. No small-market teams that win make money.”
Lustig didn’t far as far as to call Nutting cheap and does go on to say that the profits the team makes go back into the franchise. But he also said that he doesn’t ever expect Nutting to sell the team and also doesn’t ever expect him to turn the Pirates into winners, even though he supports most fans claim that a time for a new owner has never been more ideal.
“But Bob Nutting told me something that his grandfather told his father and his father told him. And that’s when the Nutting’s own something, they own it forever. I just felt I’m too old to find out how long that forever is,” Lusting also told Oliver.
“It’s almost like (fans) deserve an owner who is a little eccentric, maybe like a 70-year-old guy who is willing to spend the money he made in his lifetime on building a winner in Pittsburgh. Bob is too rational a businessman to ever spend more money to build a winner.”
It’s interesting what to make of these comments.
Is Lustig a bit bitter to the Nutting’s, who now own 80 percent of the franchise, or are his comments spot on?
Most fans will side with Lustig here for sure, but given Nutting’s lack of popularity among Pirates fans and the PR storm that continues to hit him, one thing is for sure and that is that Lustig’s comments doesn’t help his bad image one bit.